Although there are no reliable data about how many remarried couples there are in the United States, researchers have estimated the number at between 15 million and 20 million -- and growing. Remarried couples, particularly those who bring minor children to the relationship, face some special challenges. Research has shown that remarriages are 5-10% more likely to end in divorce than first marriages, and some of that increase appears to relate to the presence of children from previous relationships. The good news is that remarried couples who make it through their first year or two together are no more likely to divorce than are first-time couples.
It is because that first year is so stressful that pre-marital education can be helpful to couples who are creating a blended family.
Couples who are planning for remarriage should address financial plans and living arrangements for the family, not least the possibility of moving to a new residence that can become "their home," to quickly establish a family identity. Couples should also explore whether concerns about previous marriages and relationships need to be resolved.
One of the most difficult and stressful features for remarried families is parenting. The process of parenting begins with decisions about how to include children in plans for the marriage and home. It continues as parents and step-parents learn their roles in providing guidance and discipline to children. Parenting, in particular, puts stress on a remarried couple because parents' tight bonds with their biological children can seem to interfere with the couple's relationship.
Remarried couples with children from a pre-existing relationship may also need to plan in advance how they and the children will relate to former spouses, particularly when those previous relationships ended with anger. In some cases, a successful remarriage may require both partners to heal damaged relationships with former partners.
Remarried couples can improve the quality of their relationship, avoid stress, and create healthy families by learning how to form a strong marital bond, developing a parenting plan and learning how to fit non-resident parents (ex-spouses) and extended kin networks into their family system.
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